Story: Rugby union

William Webb Ellis statue

William Webb Ellis statue

This statue of William Webb Ellis is at Rugby School, England. The plaque claims that Ellis was the first to run with the ball, initiating the element that distinguishes rugby football from association football (soccer). There is little historical evidence to support this claim, which became a founding myth of rugby union. The trophy for the Rugby World Cup is called the Webb Ellis Cup.

Using this item

Flickr: herb36's photostream
Photograph by Nick Herbert

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Ron Palenski, 'Rugby union - History of rugby', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 18 April 2024)

Story by Ron Palenski, published 5 Sep 2013, updated 1 Sep 2016